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  • Alternative to "Final Countdown"

    Just for fun, how about if we try something a little more realistic, but the same idea (I hope I am not stepping on any toes here).

    Suppose the US manages to steal the Japanese naval codes within six weeks of the actual attack date at Pearl. The decision is made to spring an ambush on the attackers using only the assets on-hand rather than try to reinforce the islands with assets transferred from other locations. Let's further assume that they manage to compromise the information intelligence assets are sending to Japan so the Japanese Navy is ignorant of the fact the US fleet has sortied.

    So, the US fleet springs the trap at sun-up on the morning of the 7th while the Japanese fleet is in the thick of readying aircraft but have not yet launched any other than standard CAP.
    1) American aircraft surprise and attack the Japanese carrier groups.
    2) American surface assets attack the Japanese surface battle groups.
    3) American submarines pick off targets of opportunity that evening and harry the remainder of the fleet for 1000 miles of their retreat to Japan.

    Whaddya' think: can the US fleet, using only the assets that were already available in the Hawiian Islands at the time inflict sufficient damage to the Japanese fleet to appreciably alter the course of the war? If so, what are the effects of the engagement?

    Let's have fun with this!

  • #2
    Lexington and Enterprise get sunk at sea.

    Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, California and Tennessee get sunk at sea.

    Few, if any, Hawai'ian based aircraft find the IJN fleet. If any did manage to find it, the results would mirror Midway.

    IJN aircraft all had longer range than US aircraft. IJN has 6-2 advantage in carriers. IJN pilots are experienced. IJN was on high alert... They assumed we would spot them.

    Maybe... Just maybe... One or two IJN CV's suffer significant damage.
    Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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    • #3
      The Japanese fleet was in two separate groups, the carriers and their battle group, and further behind them the invasion fleet with the battleships, transports and auxiliaries. If I had prior knowledge of this fact, I would attack the carriers with my air assets and use my surface assets against the invasion fleet. Your comment seems to indicate the air battle only. I agree that the American air component would have had their work cut out for them, but I think your pessimism is misplaced. Just as at Midway, a surprise attack can have davastating effect. Even if the torpedo bombers do not draw off the zeros, catching the carriers full of armed and fueled aircraft on deck should make up for some of the inexperience of the air crews. (No, I do not expect as decisive a victory as Midway)

      Meanwhile, the surface assets and their excellent gunnery should have ample opportunity to wreak havoc on the invasion fleet.

      Overall, I think the element of surprise gives the Americans a slight edge. I also think there would be huge reamifications for both sides down the road.

      Is there a reason you think this impossible?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
        The Japanese fleet was in two separate groups, the carriers and their battle group, and further behind them the invasion fleet with the battleships, transports and auxiliaries. If I had prior knowledge of this fact, I would attack the carriers with my air assets and use my surface assets against the invasion fleet. Your comment seems to indicate the air battle only. I agree that the American air component would have had their work cut out for them, but I think your pessimism is misplaced. Just as at Midway, a surprise attack can have davastating effect. Even if the torpedo bombers do not draw off the zeros, catching the carriers full of armed and fueled aircraft on deck should make up for some of the inexperience of the air crews. (No, I do not expect as decisive a victory as Midway)

        Meanwhile, the surface assets and their excellent gunnery should have ample opportunity to wreak havoc on the invasion fleet.

        Overall, I think the element of surprise gives the Americans a slight edge. I also think there would be huge reamifications for both sides down the road.

        Is there a reason you think this impossible?
        First... There was no invasion fleet; there were two supply trains with a total of eight fleet oilers and replenishment ships. The supply trains were well back of the carrier divisions and battleship division.

        The Japanese did not think they would catch us by such total surprise. They had their eyes open all the way in.

        If our fleet did sortie, the carriers could not have effectively operated with the battleships. Enterprise and Lexington carried very few fighters at that time. Lexington had 17 F2A Buffaloes and Enterprise had 14 F4F-3 Wildcats. The Japanese had over 80 Zeros. Our aviators were inexperienced. The Japanese were highly trained with some combat experience.

        31 fighters, more than half of which were obsolete (VMF-221's Buffaloes were annihilated by Zeros at Midway), couldn't provide CAP for the carriers and the battleships and provide adequate escorts for the SBD's and TBD's.

        I just don't think our old BB's could have closed on Kirishima and Hiei during daylight hours without being devastated by air attacks. If it was a night engagement, the IJN DD's and CA's would have wreaked havoc with torpedo attacks.

        Hiei and Kirishima could make 30 kts... Our old BB's were doing good if they made 20 kts.

        For this scenario to have had a happy ending for the US Navy, it would have required a bigger miracle than Midway.
        Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

        Comment


        • #5
          As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
            As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!
            A damn good book too!

            Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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            • #7
              The only way I can see the USN getting in a killer blow vs the IJN battle fleet would be to make a dawn interception from the west. That would require luck several orders of magintude larger than Midway to position the US battle fleet correctly. The one tiny advantage the USN had in Dec 1941 was search radar on a few of the ships. If they had approached (by accident) the IJN from the south (incredible luck #1), gotten a good fix with the search radar during the night (lucky #2), use the radar to track & manuver the US battle line to the west of the IJN fleet (just a fair amount of luck for that - #3), and pulled that off without the IJN signals intel operators detecting the USN radio transmissions or a picket destroyer sppoting them (too much luck #4).

              Then at dawn, just as the first IJN aircraft are leaving the flight decks the US battle fleet opens fire on the IJN fleet silloutted in the hazy sunrise. The USN air strike launched from a few miles to the rear of the battle line should be able to get through the tiny CAP & drop its few bombs to add to the embarassment. With a bit more luck (#5) the IJN will take a pounding for a few too many minutes before making a coherent reaction. Probable result would be 2 - 4 IJN carriers damaged along with several BB & cruisers. Perhaps a few sunk as well.

              Now if the USN is right with God & keeps rolling sixes the bulk of the strike force can escape to the west & into the storm front the IJN had passed through previously. (luck beyond belief #6)

              Better would be to stumble across the IJN fleet train and nail the two tankers. Then escape SW. Nagumo would have to balance continuing the strike at Oahu against a unknown fleet lurking to his rear and a embarassing lack of fuel

              Best would be to evacuate the fleet the night before, to the South West out of Nagumos. Instead of the reinforcement mission to Wake ect... send the carriers off to strike at Truk, with priority to the fuel storage and any tanker ships there. Fuel was a weak point of the IJN and turning the reserve at Truk into a global warming contribution would give Nagumo & Yamamoto something to ponder

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bubblehead View Post
                As miracles go, Midway is as good as it gets!
                Agreed. Hoping to do it again is too much, but miracles do happen.

                Frankly in Dec 41 the IJN air group is vastly superior to the US. In the sky the US will get whipped by the Zeros. With no air cover its not looking good for the US Navy.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by peter_sym View Post
                  Agreed. Hoping to do it again is too much, but miracles do happen.

                  Frankly in Dec 41 the IJN air group is vastly superior to the US. In the sky the US will get whipped by the Zeros. With no air cover its not looking good for the US Navy.
                  Good reason to use the fleet evacuated from PH to go off and raid Truk ect... let the IJN waste its precious fuel chasing the USN.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
                    First... There was no invasion fleet; there were two supply trains with a total of eight fleet oilers and replenishment ships. The supply trains were well back of the carrier divisions and battleship division.

                    The Japanese did not think they would catch us by such total surprise. They had their eyes open all the way in.

                    If our fleet did sortie, the carriers could not have effectively operated with the battleships. Enterprise and Lexington carried very few fighters at that time. Lexington had 17 F2A Buffaloes and Enterprise had 14 F4F-3 Wildcats. The Japanese had over 80 Zeros. Our aviators were inexperienced. The Japanese were highly trained with some combat experience.

                    31 fighters, more than half of which were obsolete (VMF-221's Buffaloes were annihilated by Zeros at Midway), couldn't provide CAP for the carriers and the battleships and provide adequate escorts for the SBD's and TBD's.

                    I just don't think our old BB's could have closed on Kirishima and Hiei during daylight hours without being devastated by air attacks. If it was a night engagement, the IJN DD's and CA's would have wreaked havoc with torpedo attacks.

                    Hiei and Kirishima could make 30 kts... Our old BB's were doing good if they made 20 kts.

                    For this scenario to have had a happy ending for the US Navy, it would have required a bigger miracle than Midway.
                    Just to expand a bit on Doc's comments here;

                    The Kido Butai at Pearl Harbor consisted of the 6 carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku, and Zuikaku), 2 fast BB's of 3rd battleship div (Hiei and Kirishima), 2 CA's of 8th Cruiser Div (Tone and Chikuma), and 1st Destroyer Squadron consisting of the light cruiser Abukuma along with 6 Kagero class DD's and 2 Asashio class DD's. On the day before the Pearl Harbor strike this force turned south approaching Midway at 24kts. The slowest ship in the force was in fact the Kaga rated at 28 kts top speed. The US battleships at Pearl Harbor during this time were rated at either 20.5 or 21 kts. Plainly obvious that the entire Japanese force could easily outrun the US battleline. The US battlewagons could not even generate enough speed to operate with their own carriers thus Nimitz not sending them out with the carriers at any point in 1942. In wasn't until the North Carolina and South Dakota class BB's started coming out in Aug 42 that the US BB's had sufficient speeds to operate within a carrier task force.
                    Bill

                    "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy"

                    Billy Currington

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                    • #11
                      How about a bit of a variation on the above scenario, with less varaition from history.

                      What if the USN weren't taken completely by surprise and Hawaii was on alert when the Japanese attacked. If the fighters based at Pearl were airborne when the attack occurred could they have successfully defended the fleet?
                      "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Surrey View Post
                        How about a bit of a variation on the above scenario, with less varaition from history.

                        What if the USN weren't taken completely by surprise and Hawaii was on alert when the Japanese attacked. If the fighters based at Pearl were airborne when the attack occurred could they have successfully defended the fleet?
                        I think that to a large degree, they could have. There were 98 P-40's, 39 P-36's and a dozen P-26's at Wheeler and another 8 P-40's and 2 P-36's at Haleiwa. Plus there were 29 USMC and USN fighters (21 F4F's and 8 F2A's) at Ewa and Ford Island...SOURCE

                        If the fleet was at GQ at dawn, a large CAP up and the rest of the fighters fueled, armed and on alert status... The IJN would have lost a lot of aircraft and done far less damage to the fleet.
                        Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
                          I think that to a large degree, they could have. There were 98 P-40's, 39 P-36's and a dozen P-26's at Wheeler and another 8 P-40's and 2 P-36's at Haleiwa. Plus there were 29 USMC and USN fighters (21 F4F's and 8 F2A's) at Ewa and Ford Island...SOURCE

                          If the fleet was at GQ at dawn, a large CAP up and the rest of the fighters fueled, armed and on alert status... The IJN would have lost a lot of aircraft and done far less damage to the fleet.
                          Thanks, from looking at your link there were more than enough fighters based at Pearl to stop the Japanese attack, if they had been on alert. Plus they would have had the critical fuel advantage of operating over their bases and not having to go far to fight.

                          I wonder how different ww2 in the east would have turned out had it opened with the Japanese fleet being forced to flee back to Japan after doing minimal damage and losing a large proportion of its aircraft.
                          "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                          • #14
                            also if the fighters were alert I'm assuming the AA gun crews would be ready as well...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 88L71 View Post
                              also if the fighters were alert I'm assuming the AA gun crews would be ready as well...
                              A double edged sword, one of the few defending fighters to get airborne was shot down by AA guns...
                              "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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